Eldorado boys soccer coach Gerald Pentsil didn't have his team practice Monday, instead telling his players where they could find cold-weather gear.
For many of Eldorado's players, playing in Reno will be the first time they've competed with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s.
"We're going to have to take two Under Armours this time, and three pairs of gloves," senior forward Luis Cruz said.
The cold will be just one of several firsts for the Sundevils this weekend. And they hope the final first will be a state title.
The Sunrise Region champion Sundevils (18-2-1) play Hug in the Class 4A state semifinals at 6 p.m. today at Damonte Ranch High in Reno. Defending state champion Legacy (17-1-2) plays Galena at 4 in the other semifinal.
For Eldorado, it's the school's first state tournament berth since before many of the current players were born.
"It's going to be the first experience for all of us," Eldorado senior forward Ruben Duran said. "The first time going to Reno."
Eldorado last went to state in 1994, and the Sundevils have never won a state soccer title.
This year's Eldorado team has shown the talent to end the title drought. The Sundevils have won 15 straight since a 3-2 loss to Las Vegas on Sept. 15.
The players said that loss was an eye-opener.
"It made us realize that we can lose," Duran said. "At first, we were kind of arrogant. That game totally changed everything."
Pentsil said he saw the changes in his team after losing to the Wildcats.
"After the loss to Vegas, we had a heart-to-heart talk and we decided we can play much better than we were showing," he said. "After that, we haven't lost another game and they came together real well."
The Sundevils play an unselfish brand of soccer, looking to set up teammates rather than force a play.
"We've had not only our forwards score, but I think more than half the team score," Cruz said. "And the other half probably giving assists there. Everyone does their part."
Pentsil said he saw the team's potential in offseason workouts when there was a record turnout for weightlifting and voluntary morning practices.
And the team saw the potential as well, setting goals to win the Northeast League, the Sunrise Region and the state title.
"These are different from when we used to say finish in the top four to make it to the playoffs and then get to the (region) finals," Pentsil said. "We actually said win.
"The last one, we haven't achieved, but I consider that cream, the cream on top of the whole cake."
But Pentsil's players don't quite see it that way. The seniors would like to give their coach the whole cake, cream and all, before they go out.
"It's very special," Cruz said. "We're working hard, not only for us, but for coach. He's been here 23 years. He deserves it."
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.